Directed by Luis Bunuel, 1967
Funny in a spectacularly cruel way, sexy in a decidedly unattractive way, and masterful in a superbly disarming way, Belle de Jour is a masterwork. It succeeds not only for its surrealist abstractions and satiric commentary, but also for the utterly subtle way it digs the audience into a hole. Bunuel, the gleeful satirist, appears to have conceded to commercial expediency–a lurid setting, promise of sex–until it couldn’t be clearer that his sensibility is seeped into the frame.
Begrudgingly, I had sat through three previous Bunuel features: The Exterminating Angel, Viridiana, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. As I remarked on my letterboxd capsule: the guy only has one joke! Namely, the repetitive one in Discreet Charm, the folly of the bourgeois and their self-trapping ways–made humorously literal in The Exterminating Angel, to initially funny and finally just annoying…
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